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I could care less about diffraction. It is less obvious than having much of the bird out-of-focus due to shallow DOF.
Agreed when the OOF portion is large, such in image 3. I put that up because of the pose. For #5, I don't agree. The OOF on the tail is not significant. In fact, it is what the eye naturally sees. My reference point on diffraction is here
Now this is comparing full frame. Here the pixels size is ~50% larger on the full frame. On a 7D, the effect would be greater. Regardless, diffraction is obvious. However, I do see and agree with your point if much of the bird is OOF.
I have no problem shooting my 7D at f11 or f16 and making 20x24 prints from those images.
Sir, your hummer image is excellent, I love the slow motion on the water flow and the composition is classic rule of thirds. The vignetting effect on the edges enhances the attraction to the lighter focus on the bird. I know how difficult it is to get hummers sharp. Really well done.
Your DOF was a bit less than 1/2" and that is easy to see. With the plane of focus parallel to the sensor, that little guy is about all in focus except a bit on the end of the tail. Really well done. More impressive is the ISO. You've done a great job at noise suppression.
I can see pixelation in the lighter green areas that is not going to be very noticeable in a web image. I don't know how this translates to a 20 x 24 print but if you have blown this ISO 1600 image up to 20 x 24 and are happy with it, then I'm very impressed. Excellent work and you are the imagemaster
I'm impressed with your work and will try some higher ISOs with greater DOF to see how they work out. Maybe I'll try some 20 x 24 print side by side comparisons of the same images at F7.1 vs F16 to see if diffraction is noticeable at those dimensions. I suspect it will be but sometimes the proof is easy to see with a side by side comparison.
This doesn't solve my problem of number of pixels on the bird. I'm not sure how many pixels were in the images you make 20 x 24 but if they are full frame at 18 MP, then that would be ideal. I'm still not sure how to get that on a song bird.
Thank you very much Sir. Your username is well chosen.